I get pretty excited when we have tomatoes and cucumbers busting out of the garden and overpopulating the farmer's market. These two little foods hold a lot of nostalgia for me as I recall summers of my youth spent at my grandparents' farm. My mom and grandma would can pickles, and there was always a bowl of cucumbers and onions on the table at meals. Tomatoes were huge, and always sliced with plenty of salt and pepper (while I didn't care for them as a kid I really, really wished I did). Those two would spend hours (days, probably) slaving away over the hot stove to use up what was left--canning tomatoes, making salsa, freezing diced tomatoes, etc. I remember how warm it was in the farmhouse kitchen as this canning/freezing/preserving was done, as that window air conditioner struggled to keep it bearable and created a lot of background noise. The iced mint sun tea was always available, and the sound of the door on the porch slamming shut indicated a hungry farmer (or dirty, wild child) was about to enter for a pre-meal wash up with some good old Lava soap. I've made a couple of quick dishes the last week that remind me of these perfect-in-my-memory summers that should be shared. These will help you use up your bounty, and do not require the oven (which was always avoided on summer days at the farm, if at all possible).
-Inspired by the vinegary cucumbers of my youth, my tendency to always peel carrots into strips when using them in salads, and the fact that I was out of lettuce. This salad has been on my table every night for a week. My husband is still excited about it.
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 cucumbers (depends on the size, and the ratio of carrots to cucumbers you desire)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 large juicy ripe tomato
- red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also be fine)
- good olive oil
First, chop the tomato (or halve/quarter the cherry tomatoes) and place in a small bow. Season well with salt/pepper, drizzle with good olive oil and a few splashes of red wine vinegar. Set aside to marinate/release juices while you do the rest. If you have time to let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes while you fix the rest of your dinner, that's even better.
Peel the carrots and cucumbers as you would for any recipe, and then keep peeling (all but that initial peel layer) into a bowl until they are gone (or you have nothing to hold onto). With the cucumbers, stop peeling when you reach the seeds. It gets watery and you won't be able to peel anyway. If you are ready to eat, keep going. If not, stick this in the fridge to keep it well-chilled until just before you are ready to eat. At dinner time, toss the carrots and cucs with a little salt and pepper, then splash liberally with red wine vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. Do this to your taste. I like to taste the vinegar here, but you might prefer it more subtle. There's no right or wrong. Divide this mixture between 2-3 bowls, then top with the tomatoes (don't forget to drizzle the tomato juices on top of the salads, too.